Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1.: Machiavelli - The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth
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1.: Machiavelli - John Milton, The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth 
The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth, edited with Introduction, Notes, and Glossary by Evert Mordecai Clark (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1915).
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It has been the purpose of a preceding section to show that the mediæval contribution to The Ready and Easy Way, while very large indeed, descended by way of sixteenth-century democratic thought, and was not recognized as mediæval at all. We may therefore pass from the fifth to the fifteenth century, and next inquire as to the modern sources of Milton’s treatise. It is not a little surprising to find the first of these in the writings of Machiavelli (1469-1527), the celebrated Florentine statesman, the first, and one of the greatest, of modern politicians. There are many reasons why Machiavelli particularly interested and influenced Milton. As an embodiment of the Renaissance spirit, he stood for intellectual and religious emancipation; he eagerly welcomed the experience and wisdom of Greece and Rome; he too acknowledged Aristotle as his chief instructor, and professed himself to be—what he really was—a practical statesman and impartial inquirer after truth; his favorite model of government was the republic of Rome; his volumes were rich in information about the minor republics of Italy, such as Venice and Florence; he started from the assumption that the state, of whatever form, is to be preserved and promoted at whatever cost, and discussed with inimitable clearness and penetration the policies best adapted to that end. The fact that his attitude is unmoral and indifferentist, or nearly so, did not deter Milton—as it had innumerable narrow minds that execrated the very name of Machiavelli—from diligently reading and excerpting the Discorsi and the Arte della Guerra, as the Commonplace Book and The Ready and Easy Way prove. In spite of their usual impersonal tone, Machiavelli’s volumes contained certain bold declarations and eulogies upon freedom which, to Commonwealth-men of the calibre of Milton and Harrington, seemed to betray a republican fervor in the author. Accordingly, Harrington holds him in high repute as the ‘learn’d Disciple’ of ‘the Antients,’ and ‘the only Politician of later Ages.’1
A large part of Machiavelli’s work is, of course, a restatement of Aristotelian philosophy, and must be disregarded so far as sources are concerned, except where its connection with Milton’s thought is indisputable. Such is the case, as proved by Milton’s own citations, in those passages which amplify the thought that hereditary kings are seldom virtuous, and that good men are scarce in monarchies, but abound in commonwealths. Machiavelli also suggested to Milton, or at least confirmed him in the opinion, that God preferred to make commonwealths when given His own way about it (see note on 32. 5).
[1 ]Oceana, ed. 1737, p. 38.